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September 2017

In Monthly Book Selection on August 16, 2017 at 1:42 pm

Firewater

From the publisher:

A passionate call to action, Firewater examines alcohol─its history, the myths surrounding it, and its devasting impact on Indigenous people. Drawing on his years of experience as a Crown Prosecutor in Treaty 6 territory, Harold Johnson challenges readers to change the story we tell ourselves about the drink that goes by many names─booze, hooch, spirits, sauce, and the evocative “firewater.” Confronting the harmful stereotype of the “lazy, drunken Indian,” and rejecting medical, social and psychological explanations of the roots of alcoholism, Johnson cries out for solutions, not diagnoses, and shows how alcoholism continues to kill so many. Provocative, irreverent, and keenly aware of the power of stories, Firewater calls for people to make decisions about their communities and their lives on their own terms.

augie merasty

From the publisher:

This memoir offers a courageous and intimate chronicle of life in a residential school.

Now a retired fisherman and trapper, the author was one of an estimated 150,000 First Nations, Inuit, and Metis children who were taken from their families and sent to government-funded, church-run schools, where they were subjected to a policy of “aggressive assimilation.”

As Augie Merasty recounts, these schools did more than attempt to mold children in the ways of white society. They were taught to be ashamed of their native heritage and, as he experienced, often suffered physical and sexual abuse.

But, even as he looks back on this painful part of his childhood, Merasty’s sense of humour and warm voice shine through.

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October 2017

In Monthly Book Selection on August 16, 2017 at 1:39 pm

the fix

From the publisher:

We all know the bad news. The heady promise of the Arab Spring has given way to repression, civil war, and an epic refugee crisis. Economic growth is sputtering. Income inequality is rising around the world. And the threat of ISIS and other extremist groups keeps spreading. We are living in an age of unprecedented, irreversible decline—or so we’re constantly being told.

Jonathan Tepperman’s The Fix presents a very different picture. The book reveals the often-overlooked success stories, offering a provocative, unconventional take on the answers hiding in plain sight. It identifies ten pervasive and seemingly impossible challenges—including immigration reform, economic stagnation, political gridlock, corruption, and Islamist extremism—and shows that, contrary to the general consensus, each has a solution, and not merely a hypothetical one. In his close analysis of government initiatives as diverse as Brazil’s Bolsa Família program, Indonesia’s campaign against radicalism, Canada’s early embrace of multiculturalism, and Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s efforts to prevent another 9/11, Tepperman captures the moments in time which reveal the broadly applicable measures which can boost and buttress equality, incomes, cooperation, and cohesion in wildly diverse societies. He flips conventional political wisdom on its head, showing, for example, how much the U.S. Congress could learn about compromise and conciliation from its counterpart in Mexico.

Tepperman has traveled the world to write this book, conducting more than a hundred interviews with the people behind the policies. Meticulously researched and deeply reported, The Fix presents practical advice for problem-solvers of all stripes, and stands as a necessary corrective to the hand-wringing and grim prognostication that dominates the news, making a data-driven case for optimism in a time of crushing pessimism.

November 2017

In Monthly Book Selection on August 16, 2017 at 1:37 pm

entrepreneurial-state-cover

From the publisher:

This book debunks the myth of the State as a large bureaucratic organization that can at best facilitate the creative innovation which happens in the dynamic private sector. Analysing various case studies of innovation-led growth, it describes the opposite situation, whereby the private sector only becomes bold enough to invest after the courageous State has made the high-risk investments.

The volume argues that in the history of modern capitalism, the State has generated economic activity that would not otherwise have happened, and has actively opened up new technologies and markets that private investors can later move into. Far from the often heard criticisms of the State potentially crowding out private investments, the State makes them happen, shaping and creating markets, not only fixing them. Ignoring this reality only serves ideological ends, and hurts effective policymaking.

This book examines case studies ranging from the advent of the Internet to the emergence of the biotechnology and nanotechnology industries. In particular, the volume debunks the myth that Silicon Valley was created by entrepreneurial venture capital. A key chapter focuses on the State investments behind Apple’s success, and reveals that every major technology behind the iPhone owes its source to public funds. Thus, while entrepreneurial individuals like Steve Jobs are needed, their success is nearly impossible without their ability to ride the wave of State investments. And if Europe wants its own Googles, it needs more State action, not less.

Two forward-looking chapters focus on the emergence of the next big thing after the internet: the green revolution. Both solar and wind technology are currently being led by State spending, whether through the US ARPA-E programme or the Chinese and Brazilian State investment banks. The discussion refreshingly moves beyond the usual division between proponents of austerity vs. the proponents of fiscal stimulus. It argues that State investments not only help kick-start growth during periods of recession, but that they also, even in boom periods, lead to productive investments in radical new technologies which later foster decades of growth.

The book ends with a fundamental question: if the State is so important to investments in high-risk innovation, why does it capture so little direct return?